Sometimes the most successful designs find root in the unexpected. Dining at the newest Maudie’s Tex-Mex, tucked in Austin’s Triangle development, reveals a cool, casual and undeniably creative space that swirls together traditional Mexican textiles with funky touches of Tex-Mex flair. Eye-catching turquoise alligator print booths and bright red framed canvas huipil prints suspended from the ceiling punctuate the new restaurant’s dim ambiance while bold furnishings flawlessly fuse with traditional Mexican decor.
While each of the seven Maudie’s Tex-Mex locations scattered throughout Austin possesses its own personality, the look of the latest addition to the locally-loved chain may eventually be rolled out across all Maudie’s restaurants, says interior designer Rachel Horn.
“We wanted to keep each of the Maudie’s locations unique with its own funky little thing going on, but we’d like them to be related to the design at the Triangle,” Horn explains. “We aren’t looking to make them identical twins –– maybe second cousins. But we’d like them to look like they are all part of the same family.”
Horn is no stranger to Maudie’s Tex-Mex restaurants. In fact, the Austin-based interior designer who still maintains her studio in San Miguel de Allende, actually designed the interior space of Maudie’s Milagro located in Davenport Village 13 years ago.
Maudie’s Tex-Mex owner Joe Draker hired Horn to head up the interiors for the Davenport Village space designed by Dick Clark + Associates after meeting her on a trip to Mexico. Over the years, the two became friends and when Horn moved back to Austin three years ago, it coincided with Draker forming a design team for his new Triangle restaurant.
“He asked if I would be interested in giving the newest Maudie’s a fresh face, and I jumped at the chance,” she says. “The intention was to do something totally new for this restaurant –– to develop a design that could be taken forward for any new properties they open and to be used as a template for updates to some of the older restaurants.”
Walking into Maudie’s Triangle, it becomes evident the way design can whisk you away to a place, transform your mood and evoke a certain attitude. Overall, the new look is what Horn calls “Mexi Boho” –– an aesthetic born out of a combination of materials and colors and favorite custom touches culled from all around Mexico.
“Specifically I was looking for interesting textiles,” says the interior designer. “We picked our color scheme and fabrics by tapping into whatever textiles we found and loved.”
With her main design office in San Miguel de Allende, Horn collected most of the textiles for the new Austin restaurant from around Mexico. For example, star pendants that dangle from the ceiling and others that are mounted to it are crafted out of handmade tin and antiqued mirrors, custom made in San Miguel de Allende.
“They are one of the most classic Mexican, and Moroccan, design elements,” says Horn of the star-shaped lighting. “They are so charming and the light that comes through the antiqued mirror is so nice and soft.”
Quintessential Mexican elements like the pendants provide an interesting contrast to the more funky, grin-provoking decor sprinkled throughout the restaurant. For example, the bright chartreuse statue of the Virgin Mary offers a stark juxtaposition with the custom zinc bar it rests upon, and the vividly painted longhorn skulls scattered throughout the restaurant play up the festive Tex-Mex vibe. Ultimately, Horn says the design stems from her own worldly, eclectic interpretation of bohemian style.
“My interpretation of boho is a little bit different than the traditional one,” admits Horn. “It’s a really personal interpretation because my parents were basically nomadic hippies and we grew up traveling all over and we would bring these amazing things back from our adventures.”
Horn says her version is a departure from the typical bohemian look, a trend often executed through elements like oriental rugs paired with out-of-character furniture pieces. “That is not in my view –– that look doesn’t even come to my mind,” she says. “My version of bohemian is more worldly, it makes more sense and it is more fun.”
Some of the more unique items found throughout the new restaurant were one-of-a-kind ideas thought up by the designer. For example, one of the images she used on the design board when the team was planning out the interiors was a photograph she had taken of a dilapidated building which featured a painting of the Virgin Mary. To achieve a similar look, she commissioned Andrea Flores, an artist from Chile living in Austin who created a new piece by painting the Virgin Mary on old aluminum tin siding. The statement piece of art measures 7-feet by 9-feet and serves as the main focal point of the room where it sits adjacent to the bar area.
Horn originally wanted to frame red huipils, traditional garments worn by indigenous women from Central Mexico, in plexiglass surrounded by colorful frames. However, when she couldn’t find enough of them and wanted the look to be larger than the size of the garments, an out-of-the-box idea popped into her mind.
“I was looking at some prints I had made of a painting when it occurred to me that you could create big, five-foot by five-foot prints of these, too –– and I immediately knew that is what we should do,” says Horn. “You never know where you are going to be inspired or by what. There I was, just doing some printing in a printing shop.”
Horn laid out the huipils and captured highresolution, close-up photographs before having them printed on large canvases for added texture. “The framed huipils are a great pop of color and also provide a little privacy between the four rows of booths they separate in the restaurant,” she says.
Clever punches of color stand out against the restaurant’s polished gray cement floor, weathered wood and black ceiling. The bright chartreuse statue on the bar coordinates with the chartreuse fabric covering the dining seats, and longhorn skulls painted in vivid colors are stationed throughout the space. To break up the dark monotony of black ceiling, Horn designed large, faux wooden beams reminiscent of the ones found in the buildings and old colonial style homes in Mexico. The outside area remains relaxed and funky with Acapulco chairs coated in fun colors like orange and black. Reclaimed fence wood is clad on the restaurant’s walls, columns and bar, providing a warm and rustic look. But Horn’s favorite touch is found in one of the most unexpected places: the bathrooms.
“The bathroom is my favorite thing of all,” says Horn. “The tile in there is just spectacular –– it’s a cement tile in a really cool geometric design that we had installed on the floors and up to the ceiling. It is pretty outrageous. And the sink is really fun, too –– it’s a giant custom made cement sink we designed. This is definitely not the typical bathroom.”
RESTAURANT Maudie’s Triangle
512.381.5500 | Maudies.com
DESIGNER Rachel Horn Interiors
Mexico Tel. +52 (415) 154-8323
USA Tel/Fax: +1 (310) 295-0100
ARCHITECT Red Arc One
512.495.1556 | Redarcone.com
BUILDER Blue & Associates, Inc.
512.670.9310 | Blueconstruction.com